MANILA — Malacañang on Wednesday said it is pleased with the result of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) plebiscite in Cotabato City after majority of the voters opted to join the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
“Consistent with the position of the President (Rodrigo R. Duterte) for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), we are pleased that the “yes vote” has prevailed in Cotabato City, based on the complete but unofficial tally of the Commission on Elections (Comelec),” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo encouraged the city residents, particularly those who voted against the BOL, to respect the decision of the majority.
“The sovereign people have spoken, those who are against the BOL must yield to the rule of the majority,” Panelo said.
“All the major players, pro and con, must now come together and work together for the success of the common aspiration of the Bangsamoro people, which is to have a progressive and peaceful Mindanao,” he added.
Panelo said the result of the plebiscite in Cotabato City must be upheld if the reported irregularity, fraud and intimidation “do not affect the credibility of the elections”.
“As in all elections and plebiscites, there will be claims of irregularity, fraud and intimidation,” said Panelo, also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel.
“If they do not affect the credibility of the elections and alter the result thereof, while those responsible for the undemocratic methods will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, the result of the plebiscite must be upheld despite discordant voices,” he added.
Based on the complete but unofficial tally of the Comelec in Cotabato City, the BOL received 36,682 ‘yes’ votes and 29,994 ‘no’ votes during last Monday’s plebiscite.
A discrepancy, however, was noticed as the certificate of canvass showed that of the total 71,963 registered voters, only 39,027 actually voted in 373 precincts (an updated certificate of canvass puts the total number of polling precincts to 374).
When tallied, the “yes” and “no” votes recorded a total of 61,676 votes, or a difference of 22,649 votes against the number of actual voters.
Aside from Cotabato City, the plebiscite for the ratification of BOL was also conducted in Isabela City and five provinces of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao — Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
Another plebiscite is scheduled on Feb. 6 in six towns in Lanao del Norte and in 67 villages in North Cotabato. (PNA) By Earl Jed Roque